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According to our research, there were 4.66 billion globally active internet users as of January 2021. It accounts for 59.5% of the global population. In order to reach your target audience and boost your business growth, It is important for you to know the key difference between Growth hacking versus Digital marketing since these statistics throw tremendous opportunities for startups and SMBs to utilize the worldwide web.

Internet Users Worldwide-

While it is remarkable to get a company off the ground, one doesn’t have to be an expert to understand that resting on this achievement alone can usher in growth. Start-ups need to grow to consolidate their position in the market. They need to grow more significantly enough to generate revenue and profit.

Large-sized or established companies don’t need to grow relatively as fast. But they may still want to ensure that their metrics are moving in the right direction. Profitability ushered by an efficient sales process helps a business build liquidity. This can protect against future risk even if the sales and revenue remain the same. But businesses don’t grow by themselves. They have to put in place systems that drive organic growth. Here are certain factors that help grow a business organically.

  • The intent, motivation, and ability of employees to ease the company’s expansion,
  • A strategy that prioritizes growth and pushes the business forward,
  • Infrastructure and processes to facilitate growth and expansion, and
  • Adequate capital to make all the above possible. 

A growing business expands in more than one way. No single metric is used to measure growth. Several data points such as Company Value, Sales, Revenue, Profits, Number of Employees, Number of Customers, and more reflect the development of a company. 

Evolution of Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing 

The term ‘Digital Marketing‘ was first coined in the 1990s, and the digital age took off with the coming of the internet. It allowed users to find the information they wanted but disallowed them from sharing information over the internet. Until then, marketers worldwide were unsure of the digital platform. They weren’t sure if their strategies would work.

The year 1993 saw the first clickable banner going live, marking the transition to the digital era of marketing. Google was born in 1998. Microsoft propelled the MSN search engine, and Yahoo brought Yahoo web search to the market. But the internet bubble burst two years later, and all the smaller search engines were washed out, leaving more scope for the giants in the business. The digital marketing world saw its first culmination in 2006, when search engine traffic grew about 6.4 billion in a single month. Then came Web 2.0, where users could actively interact with other users and businesses rather than remain passive users. 

Soon, social networking sites such as MySpace, Orkut, Facebook, etc., began to emerge. Many companies realized these spaces were gateways to market their products and brands. It marked the beginning of a new episode in business. With new resources, businesses needed a new approach to promote their brands & capitalize on the social networking platform.

The ‘Cookie’ was an important milestone the digital marketers achieved. Advertisers capitalized on fledgling technology to track browsing habits and user patterns to tailor promotions and marketing collateral to their tastes. But the digital market remained in a constant state of flux. They needed to keep up with this change and pace up with emerging trends. 

Growth Hacking is a comparatively new concept, but many business owners aren’t clear about its meaning and how it differs from digital marketing. It is a distinct discipline that skyrocketed into the mainstream when Sean Ellis coined the term in 2010 and employed Growth Hacking to grow many famous companies such as Dropbox. Growth Hacking is a mindset that differs from Digital Marketing.  

Digital Marketing and Growth Hacking certainly overlap. But they are not the same and have fundamentally different goals. Both Growth Hackers and Digital Marketers work to acquire and retain customers, but their purpose, perspectives, and approaches differ. Growth Hacking is a set of techniques that focus on accelerating a company’s growth using innovative methods. It begins right from the early stages of product development until launch. Be it guerilla marketing, UX, SEO, or Email Marketing, Growth Hacking uses it all. 

The true goal of Growth Hacking is to take the products and brand to the next level, undeterred by budgets and timelines. It primarily deals with optimizing websites to improve user experience and boost conversion rates. It involves creating a solid presence on social media to engage with the target audience. The customer acquisition strategy involves SEO, Content Marketing, A/B testing of Landing Pages, and much more to improve conversion rates. Growth hacking emphasizes using data and analytics to optimize the growth of the business.

Airbnb, the room rental service, is one of the best examples of an impressive growth hacking strategy. Another great example, Dropbox, used its product as the distribution channel in its Growth Hacking strategy. 

Key Differences between Digital Marketing & Growth Hacking

There is a thin line of difference between Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing. Although they overlap, each one requires a different approach. 

  • Digital Marketing focuses on capturing new customers, converting them, and engaging them effectively to boost retention rates for the company. Growth Hacking is about how you can further use your existing customer base to drive referrals & additional revenues.
  • Digital marketing relies exclusively on digital channels for promotion, such as social media, emails, search engines, etc. Growth Hacking, however, leverages a strategic mix of digital marketing channels and traditional marketing approaches to retain business clients.
  • Digital marketing features strategies that burn through a predetermined budget. Digital marketing strategies can successfully spike online traffic and drive businesses to the top of the sales funnel. Growth Hacking, on the other hand, goes beyond the top of the funnel, emphasizing the process of the entire funnel. It attracts users, engages them, retains them, and even turns them into champions for a particular brand.
  • Growth Hackers value Digital Marketing. They are involved in content marketing and analytics, diving deep into content performance and how users respond to the companies campaigns. 
  • Data and results are key. Growth Hackers live on data-driven results derived from some form of A/B Testing. Growth Hacking is highly data-driven when shaping strategies for the future.
  • Growth marketers experiment with marketing techniques, fail at times, only to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Growth hackers need to see how an overall business performs to adjust its efforts for success. Just as a Digital Marketer tracks a new blog’s performance and then revises the content to improve the results, a Growth Hacker does the same to improve the outcomes in every aspect of a business.
  • Growth Hackers are a certain kind of breed. When building a growth hacking team, they get creative, logical, and are willing to do what it takes to succeed. 


What Impact Does Growth Hacking Have on Your Business?

While traditional digital marketing is all about selling a company’s products and services, growth hacking is more holistic. Growth hackers are not focused on sales alone. They are focused on digging out the most efficient way to grow an overall business.

1. Growth Hacking is Quicker Than Traditional/Digital Marketing :

If your business objective requires you to grow your business as quickly as possible, growth hacking is the way to go. By digging and consolidating data related to your business, your target audience, and the marketplace you operate in, growth hacking helps expedite your growth.

And while a traditional marketer or a digital marketer can help boost several metrics across your business, their generalist nature impedes them from dedicating themselves to growth. But growth hackers help you focus only on growth opportunities and achieve your growth goals much faster.

2. Growth Hacking Slashes The Costs Down :

Kicking off a growth hacking strategy is a cost-effective way of scaling up your business. This happens when a growth hacker attuned to the possibilities of analyzing data leverages it. 

Using their next-level knowledge of numbers and data, a growth hacker can – 

  • analyze the business performance of a company,
  • find cost-effective ways of operating, and
  • achieve goals that save you long-term money.

A good growth hacker will never be satisfied by the status quo and will always look for ways to achieve the best results at less cost.

3. Growth Hacking Fetches Greater ROI :

In most cases of growth hacking, the intent is to benefit from short-term growth and make more significant profits. Short-term growth aims to make a business appear marketable to potential investors/stakeholders and raise as much capital as possible during an IPO. While this may not be the goal for every business, growth hacking in all its forms may increase profitability and ROI for any business.

What Makes A Growth Hacker?

Traditional digital marketers may be unbeatable in their profession. They may build great strategies, big brand identities, and sales campaigns, but they will, at maximum, be well-versed with only one or two skills at any given point in time. A copywriter never gets to design or set social media ads. An art director may seldom write or find ideas. An account manager will never talk about SEO, or ahead of the strategy department probably won’t know much about Search Engine Advertising. The roles are very distinct. All of them will come together to deliver an artistically indulging successful campaign. But if the campaign ideas need revision or feedback, the respective copywriters/ designers/ account managers must be communicated. 

But Growth Hackers or Growth Marketers are all-around marketers with a diverse range of backgrounds. Some past experiences of growth marketers may involve being a Salesperson, Programming engineer, Commercial Copywriter, Account Manager, Entrepreneur, Business Development, UX designer, Video Marketer, etc. And, to create growth solutions for each stage of the sales funnel, a growth hacker is doing more than one thing. They are engaging in T-shaped growth marketing. 

Every Growth Marketer or Growth Hacker is a creative, tech-savvy, data-driven fast learner. They get to know a brand at the first glimpse and concretize tens of experiment ideas. 

Growth Hackers are not stuck with perfection paralysis and, therefore, not focused on finding the most innovative idea. They concentrate on finding scalable experiment ideas. They have a hold on their creative reflexes and overcome obstacles quickly. 

And, because data forms the core of every idea, each of their A/B Testing experiments is measurable against sustainable growth. The growth marketer knows how to interpret data and operate different analytic tools. 

A Growth Hacker is always armed and equipped with marketing tools and automation. They know how to set up A/B tests, automated workflows, landing pages, and more. 

Growth Hacking Agencies – Why Choose Them?

If you seek to establish your brand as an industry leader, benefit from the best practices, tools, trends, or revive your stagnant leads and sales data, you must partner with a growth hacking agency. These agencies are committed to helping business owners, entrepreneurs, and marketers to reach the target audience, get leads, grow your business ROI, and much more. 

An ideal growth hacking agency will take propel your business to the next level with solutions that takes care of :

  1. Business Growth Strategy by modeling your growth and focusing on the right metrics. They will define your growth strategy and outline the process for expediting exponential growth.
  2. Target the Audience by taking cognizance of who your customers are, their pain points, and what keeps them busy. They define your customer persona and find ways to reach them.
  3. Lead Generation by generating a constant, predictable flow of inbound leads for your business. They map the lead flow by setting up a long-term lead generation system.
  4. Marketing Automation by automating what should be automated. This prevents you from spending time on repetitive tasks and allows you to focus on closing deals instead.
  5. Content Marketing by consolidating resources that can be produced to help your prospects and customers at every stage of the sales funnel.
  6. Conversion Optimization by developing highly converting landing pages and websites, measuring and improving conversions.
  7. Search Engine Optimization by emphasizing organic search traffic for long-term success from the very start.

Searching for an agile and growth hacking agency can be challenging. While most of them offer quick breakthroughs and momentum to businesses, here are the best growth hacking agencies that act as a long-term growth partner for your company. 

The Future of Growth Hacking (2.0)

Growth is at the center of the long-term of any business. Growth determines how well a company does, how long it sticks around, or how quickly it fizzles out into obscurity. Start-ups have realized that growth hacking is indispensable when it comes to translating an idea into reality. And, while growth is critical, it is of utmost importance to hack your way to more users and make use of growth leadership as well.

The preceding year 2020, was a year of great social responsibility, and so is this ongoing year. It is wise not to expect growth hacking to remain the same in this era of constant change. Not only is it more relevant for businesses to think about the cost per customer acquisition, but it is also equally crucial for them to consider the social impact their product/service will have on society, the planet, and humanity as a whole. 

For businesses to grow sustainably in the post-pandemic era, they will need to consider their perspectives on specific implications of their existence on the rest of the world and their communities. In 2020-2021, thousands of automation platforms/tools helped entrepreneurs with limited resources to get enough traction to get a business off the ground. 

Businesses with resources can make a dent with a well-organized and strategic plan of action. Though it’s easier to build a business than it ever would, it has never been harder to find online. It has never been so challenging to catch the attention of online users. 

With so many people making noise, it is challenging to stand out and get your business to reach the eyes of millions. But thanks to growth hacking, and an ongoing iterative growth strategy, the future is bright. 

Growth hacking is significant to the success of individual digital initiatives and the broader digital transformation agenda. Digital transformation is more about changing minds and culture than about technology adoption. The future of growth hacking will enable brands to bypass skepticism and inertia by demonstrating results early on to the entire organization. It will enable them to make their digital vision tangible, thereby building momentum for more initiatives and triggering a positive chain reaction. 

Final Thoughts

Having explored all the potential overlapping factors between Digital Marketing and Growth Hacking, we know that they are very different from each other. But while growth hacking is focused upon finding affordable ways to grow a company quickly, traditional digital marketing often requires a much larger budget. Besides, conventional digital marketing involves promoting finished products compared to growth hacking, which consists in developing and promoting products at all stages of development based on customer feedback and data.